GRANT Young has achieved plenty during a lifetime in the racing industry.
But you could tell the thrilling, drought-breaking win of his grand stayer Spying On You in Monday’s $160,000 Great Eastern Steeplechase at Oakbank meant something very special to the Murray Bridge horseman.
Young had already tasted glory in South Australia’s greatest jumping race, claiming the Great Eastern 17 years ago as a jockey riding Bruskin for local trainer David Halliday.
It was clear, however, that the feat to produce $16 outsider Spying On You in peak condition for Monday’s 4950m test of equine endurance and agility was a career highlight for Young, a passionate supporter of jumps racing.
And it was certainly one of the most popular victories of recent years, Young swamped by fellow trainers as Spying On You and his jockey Tom Ryan surged past brave Victorian rival Undergroundfighter ($18) in the shadows of the winning post.
Remarkably, just a half-length separated the leading pair at the end of the 24-jump race which went without incident.
The favourite Lord Of The Song ($2.60), chasing his third win in the feature, finished third, another two lengths away.
Five of the seven runners completed the course, while two — second favourite Dormello Mo and rank outsider Street Outlaw — were pulled out of the race by their jockeys after struggling to stay in contact with their rivals.
Young, who went within a whisker of winning last year’s Adelaide Cup with Tunes, rarely shows emotion on race day but he was clearly overwhelmed by Spying On You’s victory, the first Great Eastern win by a South Australian-trained horse since Raquets won for Halliday in 2003.
“This holds a special place in my heart. Jumps racing made me the person I am today,” Young said.
“I can win most races but I reckon that’d top all of them.
“It’s pretty amazing. It’s not quite the same as winning a Melbourne Cup but it’s right up there.
“It’s probably bigger than winning it as a jockey.
“As a trainer you have to put all that work into them. This horse has been to hell and back on the training track.
“To get him here today … he carried a bit of an injury from his last preparation and we’ve had to nurse that a little bit. He’s a bloody marvel and a really tough horse.
“It was a fantastic ride by Tommy, too.”
Young said he wasn’t surprised by Spying On You’s outstanding staying performance, despite being among the outsiders of the field.
“I really liked him today,” he said.
“We knew how much work he’d done. He’s rock-hard fit and he just keeps going.
“I just can’t wait to watch the replay.”
It was also the first major win at Oakbank for Irish hoop Ryan, a highly respected and accomplished jumps jockey.
“I only thought he was going to win it with about 20m to go,” Ryan said.
“I made a bad mistake at the second-last (fence) and I thought my chance was gone.
“But it’s such a long run in. I gave him every chance in the world coming into that last jump and then he just battled to the line. Boy he’s tough.”
Victorian trainer Tony Rosalini was on the verge of causing one of the biggest upsets in recent Great Eastern history when Undergroundfighter broke clear with once fence to travel.
“He just needed another jump,’’ Rosalini said. “It’s such a long run home after that final fence. He tried his guts out.”
Undergroundfighter’s jockey Daryl Horner Jr couldn’t hide his disappointment after thinking he had the race in his keeping.
“That’s hard to swallow,” he said.
Originally published as Young reigns in Great Eastern thriller
SOURCE: newsnow sport